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Queen's Theatre

Queen's Theatre
Queen's Theatre in 2011. The musical Les Misérables transferred to the Queen's Theatre in March 2004 after its run at the Palace Theatre.
Address Shaftesbury Avenue
Westminster, London
Coordinates
Designation Grade II
Production Les Misérables
Website
Queen's Theatre website at Delfont Mackintosh Theatres
Auditorium
Auditorium, ceiling detail

The Queen's Theatre is a West End theatre located in Shaftesbury Avenue on the corner of Wardour Street in the City of Westminster. It opened on 8 October 1907 as a twin to the neighbouring Hicks Theatre (now the Gielgud Theatre) which opened ten months earlier. Both theatres were designed by W.G.R. Sprague.

Contents

  • History 1
  • Recent and present productions 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

History

Original plans were to name the venue Central Theatre, however after lengthy debate, it was named The Queen's Theatre and a portrait of Queen Alexandra was hung in the foyer.[1]

The first production at the Queen's Theatre was a comedy by Madeline Lucette Ryley called The Sugar Bowl. It was poorly received and ran for only 36 performances, however the theatre received glowing reviews.

The Stage

on 10 October 1907 described the theatre as

A two-tier house, the Queen's holds about 1200 persons, representing some £300 in money. The colour scheme of the walls and roof is white and gold, while green is the hue of the carpets, hangings and upholstery, and of the very charming velvet tableau curtain. From a spacious and lofty entrance-hall, with passages leading down into the stalls, one ascends by a handsome marble staircase to the dress circle, which runs out over the pit; and there is a fine and roomy saloon at the top. Mr Vedrenne makes a point that 7/6 will be charged for seats in the first three rows only of the dress circle, while but 5/- will be the price of the remaining eight rows, also unreserved, in which evening dress will be optional. On the second tier of the Queen's, which is in the Old Italian Renaissance style and in the building of which the cantilever principle has been adopted, are the upper circle and the shilling gallery. The auditorium is lighted up agreeably with electric lamps and an electrolier, and ample refreshment room and other accommodation will be found to have been provided[2]

Throughout its history, The Queen's Theatre has seen such talents as Peggy Ashcroft, Fred and Adele Astaire, Tallulah Bankhead, Kenneth Branagh, Noël Coward, Henry Daniell, Marlene Dietrich, Robert Donat, Edith Evans, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., John Gielgud, Cedric Hardwicke, Jack Hawkins, Nigel Hawthorne, Celia Johnson, Jane Lapotaire, Alec Guinness, Rachel Kempson, Gertrude Lawrence, Robert Morley, Stephen Fry, Anthony Quayle, Basil Rathbone, Michael Redgrave, Miranda Richardson, Margaret Rutherford, Fiona Shaw, Nigel Havers, Maggie Smith, Sybil Thorndike, Nick Jonas,and Ramin Karimloo. Recent notable shows at the Queen's include the Tony Award winning musical Contact; Cyberjam, a production by the Emmy and Tony Award winning creators of Blast!; and The Taming of the Shrew.

In September 1940, a German bomb landed directly on the theatre, destroying the facade and lobby areas. The production at the time was Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca starring Celia Johnson, Owen Nares and Margaret Rutherford. The theatre remained closed until a ₤250,000 restoration was completed by Westwood Sons & Partners almost 20 years later. The auditorium retained its Edwardian decor while the lobbies and exterior were rebuilt in a modern style. The reconstructed theatre opened 8 July 1959 with John Gielgud's solo performance in Shakespeare speeches and sonnets, Ages of Man.[1]

Since April 2004, the theatre has played host to Cameron Mackintosh's production of Les Misérables which transferred after 18 years at the nearby Palace Theatre. The musical celebrated its 20th anniversary at the venue on 8 October 2005 and overtook Cats as the longest running musical of all time a year later on 8 October 2006.[3]

The theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in June 1972.[4]

An extensive refurbishment was undertaken in the latter half of 2009 which improved public areas and increased capacity with new seating and boxes reinstated at dress circle level.

Recent and present productions

References

  1. ^ a b "Queen's Theatre-History". Delmont Mackintosh Theatres. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  2. ^ Theatre history at Arthur Lloyd site accessed 23 Aug 2007
  3. ^ BBC News
  4. ^ English Heritage listing details accessed 28 Apr 2007
  • Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 133–4 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
  • Who's Who in the Theatre, edited by John Parker, tenth edition, revised, London, 1947, pps: 477-478 and 1183.

External links

  • Queen's Theatre London official website
  • Theatre History
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